Black Trials: Citizenship from the Beginnings of Slavery to the End of Caste

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9780375708848: Black Trials: Citizenship from the Beginnings of Slavery to the End of Caste
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   From a brilliant young legal scholar comes this sweeping history of American ideas of belonging and citizenship, told through the stories of fourteen legal cases that helped to shape our nation.
   Spanning three centuries, Black Trials details the legal challenges and struggles that helped define the ever-shifting identity of blacks in America. From the well-known cases of Plessy v. Ferguson and the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings to the more obscure trial of Joseph Hanno, an eighteenth-century free black man accused of murdering his wife and bringing smallpox to Boston, Weiner recounts the essential dramas of American identity—illuminating where our conception of minority rights has come from and where it might go. Significant and enthralling, these are the cases that forced the courts and the country to reconsider what it means to be black in America, and Mark Weiner demonstrates their lasting importance for our society.

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A sweeping history of American ideas of belonging and citizenship, told through the stories of fourteen legal cases that helped to shape our nation.
Spanning the period from colonial times to the present, "Black Trials tells how the place of blacks in American society evolved through the actions of our courts of law. Some of the cases discussed are legendary, such as the ordeal of John Brown, the fiery abolitionist who was hanged for raiding Harpers Ferry in order to equip an army of insurgent slaves. Some are forgotten, such as that of Joseph Hanno, an eighteenth-century free black man charged not only with the brutal murder of his wife but with having brought smallpox to Boston. All of these cases compelled the legal system and the public to reconsider the place of blacks in America and, in so doing, to reconcile our founding ideals with the realities of American life. Drawing on a wealth of new archival sources, Weiner recounts the essential dramas of American civic identity-illuminating where our sense of minority rights has come from and where it might go.
Combining brilliant interdisciplinary analysis with riveting narrative, "Black Trials offers a new way of thinking about inclusion and citizenship-and by extension about the meaning of America itself.

"From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author:

Mark S. Weiner was born and raised in Los Angeles. After graduating from Stanford University, he received a Ph.D. in American studies and a law degree from Yale. He now teaches constitutional law, legal history, and legal ethics at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, New Jersey.

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